Won Ang presents a marriage of Asian cuisines


Bridal magazines give me a rash. Phone-book thick, they counsel the would-be married on minutiae necessary for sure-fire wedding-day success: party favors, veil length and when to pay the clergyperson.

If you ignore these urgent directives, you're condemned to wedding-day bloopers that'll have your cousins tittering in their pews. Unless, of course, you leave all the details in someone else's capable hands -- and that is what Won Ang is counting on.

The Won Ang Mini Mall bills itself as a "Wedding Service Center." Its owners have all the bases covered: beauty salon, formal-wear shop, banquet hall and Chinese-Korean-Japanese restaurant.

Regardless of your marital status, you'll want to check out the restaurant's new, moderately priced, diverse and delicious buffet. At first, we weren't sure we'd come to the right segment of the mini mall. Dummies in poofy pastel taffeta dresses lounged stiffly on sofas in an opulent foyer fronted by a gurgling fountain.

Feeling somewhat tentative, we were ushered into the dining room. Pink latticework and planters overflowing with fake flowers separate the huge space into dining areas. Pink and maroon draperies, crystal chandeliers, pink wainscoting and a gilded chair rail had us humming "Here Comes the Bride."

Presented with one menu of Korean dishes and another of sushi classics, we were strongly urged to opt instead for the buffet. Before obliging, we ordered a simple bowl of miso soup. Garnished only with scallion and tofu cubes, the Japanese staple was light, subtly flavored and restorative.

Our first pass at the buffet yielded a comforting vegetable lo mein, a selection of pretty California roll sushi and a decidedly Western salad of iceberg lettuce topped with crisp onions and croutons and a dollop of ranch dressing, no less.

Feeling a little more adventuresome on our next round, we came away with a sweet and smoky Korean dish of thinly sliced, marinated and grilled beef and white onion. To accompany this, we scooped up a few pieces of fiery, chili-burnished cabbage kimchi, a tangle of bean sprouts in a demure rice vinegar and sesame oil vinaigrette, a dish of sauteed watercress and a mound of marinated black beans. The beans were pleasantly chewy, glazed in a teriyaki-tasting sauce, and the delicate watercress was simply flavored with salt and a bit of vinegar.

To cool some of the heat of the Korean dishes we included a heap of sticky white rice dotted with green peas and a serving of goopy, pink Chinese sweet-and-sour chicken. The chicken was pleasant, but the sauce oddly contained chunks of sweet pickled cucumber in lieu of the more standard pineapple.

Trying to give each cuisine equal time, we capped off our meal with another tray of sushi: tuna and yellowtail nigiri (slices of raw fish draped over fingers of rice) proved ultra-fresh and silky, with just the right amount of sinus-clearing wasabi.

Won Ang's only missteps were in the beverage category. It was out of wine during our visit, the beers were a pedestrian group of American standbys (no Japanese Kirin or Saporo, no Chinese Tsingtao, no Korean OB), and we didn't want to even venture into the section of the beverage menu labeled "Hard Liquid."

All in all, despite not eating wedding cake or seeing a bride throw a bouquet, we left Won Ang feeling festive and satisfied.

Won Ang

7487-89 Baltimore and Annapolis Blvd., Glen Burnie

(410) 761-2630

Hours: Open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch and dinner

Credit cards: All major cards

Prices: Lunch buffet, $6.95; dinner buffet $14.95.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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